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Steelers

Batch and Bettis unaffected by Limbaugh's remarks

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, Oct. 3, 2003

If Rush Limbaugh truly believes that black quarterbacks are given an unfair edge by the media, it's news to the Steelers' Charlie Batch.

Batch, 28, has played quarterback since the age of 7, earning a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University and a place in the NFL for the past six seasons on the strength of his own back.

"It wasn't a matter of skin color," Batch said. "It was a matter of, 'Can the guy play the position?' "

Batch refused to comment on Limbaugh's remarks in which Limbaugh said the media overrated the Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb because it was eager for a black quarterback to succeed.

If Rush Limbaugh truly believes that black quarterbacks are given an unfair edge by the media, it's news to the Steelers' Charlie Batch.

Batch, 28, has played quarterback since the age of 7, earning a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University and a place in the NFL for the past six seasons on the strength of his own back.

"It wasn't a matter of skin color," Batch said. "It was a matter of, 'Can the guy play the position?' "

Batch refused to comment on Limbaugh's remarks in which Limbaugh said the media overrated the Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb because it was eager for a black quarterback to succeed.

"I'm not even going to speculate," Batch said.

Steelers running back Jerome Bettis also wasn't eager to talk about it, saying the remarks were not "that significant to me." But he added that he believed that Limbaugh was out of line.

"You hope that people could understand and interpret what he's saying for what it was, instead of taking it to a different place," Bettis said. "I don't think he, necessarily, was being racist by the comments, although they are comments he probably shouldn't have said. So, I think the comments were definitely out of place. (Racial comments) have done nothing but come back to bite guys in the butt. You have to be careful what you say dealing with race."

Batch and Bettis speak from a background of tolerance, socially and professionally. Both players are backups with the Steelers after serving as important starters for most of their careers, and both can't see their situations changing in the immediate future.

"Not that I can see, not from the naked eye," said Bettis when asked if the Steelers, who have fallen to 23rd in the NFL in rushing, might consider a change at running back.

Bettis has carried only 27 times for 86 yards and a touchdown in the first four games, but he said he doesn't feel cheated.

"It is what it is," he said. "You just have to deal with it. I don't know what the word is for it, but it's not cheated. I want to get in. I want to get in, just like everybody else."

Neither Bettis nor Batch has caused a fuss about their situations. In fact, Batch said he had no thoughts about coming in the game last Sunday, even when starter Tommy Maddox threw two interceptions that led directly to 14 points for the Tennessee Titans.

"You can't play this position looking over your shoulder," Batch said, "nor can you substitute in and out. You need a flow. You need to get into a rhythm. If one bad play happens, you don't want to start being gun shy. You want to know if you're the guy, you're the guy. You start the game. You finish the game.

"It's a long season. There are 16 games. You are not going to have 16 great games. It's not going to happen. If you have a bad game, you're able to bounce back the following week. That's why I can say not one time during that game did I think I was going to go in."

Bettis doesn't like his backup status, but he's willing to accept it.

"All (complaining) is a negative," he said. "It doesn't solve anything. It's not going to help you get on the field any faster. At the end of the day, all you're doing is looking like an (idiot), cussing out people. For what?

"What are you solving• Are they going to go to you (after you complain)• Are they going to use you more now• Actually, they are going to use you less now?

"So, you have to bide your time and wait for the opportunity."

No matter how long it takes.

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